Musée Mémorial des Finistériens

Fort de Montbarey

Un char Churchill dans le Fort Montbarey. Source : GNU Free Documentation License

Fort Montbarey, completed in 1784, was built to form part of the defence of Brest against the English over land.

It was from Brest that squadrons departed to support the Americans in the War of Independence.


Louis XVI, who wanted to turn the port into an impenetrable fortress, decided to complete Vauban's fortifications with the construction of a line of defence to the west of the town. It consisted of five independent forts.


The largest, Fort Montbarey, was designed to withstand a siege lasting three weeks with 500 to 600 soldiers. Its construction lasted from 1777 until 1784.


Completed after the American War of Independence, it only ever had a role as a deterrent.


The French Navy made it available to the Memorial Association in 1984 in order that it could be used to tell the history of Finistère during the Second World War.

The museum occupies some of the 3 hectares and consist of:

5 main rooms: Cell I : Accommodation for 100 soldiers. Screening room for the video "Brest at war during the Second World War". Cell II : Artillery workshop also used as accommodation for 50 soldiers in the garret. The exhibition "Old boats in the turmoil" recounts the departure of boats to Great Britain following the appeal of 18th June 1940. Cell III: Hall of honour: Maps tracing the development of the conflict of 1933 to 1945. Finistère's decorations and towns awarded medals. Model of the Fort as it was designed. Churchill's tank. Map tracing the American advance on Brest. Crypt of Remembrance. Gallery for the people of Finistère who "died for France" and the Allies who died in battle. Cell IV : Artillery workshop with accommodation for 50 soldiers. Here we find models and vehicles, as well as the "Brest at war" exhibition Cell V: Accommodation for 100 soldiers. Exhibition: the 1st French army and the Provence landings.


Northern Quarter - Pharmacy which also served as accommodation for the surgeons and the chaplain. Along with the infirmary, it houses a 1940 exhibition. - Infirmary. It was the first time that a place for confining the sick and wounded had been incorporated into the design of a fort - Room of the Résistance. - Room of the Deportation. It is important that this is seen by the younger generation, but it is not advised to bring very young children.
Southern Quarter: - Flour store with accommodation for the quartermaster in the garret. During the Second World war it was used as the mess for German officers. It was they who drew the eagle and horses' heads and carved the mottos. Bottom right "Fidelity is the essence of honour". It is a quote from Bismark. On the right as you enter "The struggle leads us to victory". On the left "Germany will live on if we must die". An exhibition covers the involvement of aviators from Finistère in the Free French Forces (FAFL).


- Bake house : the oven designed to bake 300 loaves a day is still in working order. The hook was used to hang the sacks of flour so they could be emptied onto the table. In the wall, a pipe brought the water required for baking.


Exhibitions: "The American War of Independence". "Overseas theatres of operations" (Free French). - Quartermaster's stores. On the right as you enter is the wood store. On the left is the back of the oven. At the end there was a small well from which the water was drawn to feed the waterspout that comes out in the bake house. - Wine store.


Deportation wagon : It was in wagons like this that deportees were taken to the camps; the journey lasted about a fortnight with 100 to 120 or even 150 people inside. It is dedicated to the wartime railwaymen and to Finisterian deportees.

Blockhouse: Constructed in 1953 by the French navy, it housed a Radar command post during the cold war. Room 1: The presence of the Kriegsmarine in Brest, most notably the Scharnhorst, the Gnelsnau and the submarine base.


Room 2 : Ammunition found in the area.


Well : Fed by a spring, it contained 4,000 litres of water. Between the 12th and 16th September 1944, it served as an improvised command post to the soldiers of a battalion of the 2nd Parachute Infantry Regiment who were entrenched in the fort. To liberate the fort, the Americans had to call upon the British who were armed with Churchill Crocodile flamethrower tanks, of which an example from the period can be seen at the entrance to the courtyard.


Vehicles: They are all original. With the exception of the tank they are all in working order. Most of them served during the Normandy landings (a painted star on the vehicle). They are on show at the fort as a tribute to the action of the allies that allowed the liberation of France.


Musée Mémorial des Finistériens

Fort de Montbarey – Allée Bir-Hakeim

BP 53111 - 29231 Brest cedex 3

Tél. : 02 98 05 39 46        @mail :


Visites :

Le mardi, mercredi, jeudi et vendredi de 14h à 17h (jusqu’à 18h en été)

Le dimanche de 14h à 17h (jusqu’à 18h en été)

Groupes (≥ 10 pers.) : visites guidées sur rendez-vous ; autres jours/horaires possibles.


Boutiques (livres, documents sur la Seconde Guerre mondiale).

Parking à l'intérieur du fort pour environ 40 voitures


Tarifs :

Adulte : 5 €

Anciens Combattants (1) : 3 €

Enfants de 9 ans et plus, étudiants (1) : 3 €

Enfants de moins de 9 ans : gratuit

Gratuité pour les personnes adhérant à l’association Mémorial (25 €/an)

Forfait scolaire : 25 € par classe

Tarif pour groupe supérieur à 10 visiteurs avec visite guidée


(1) sur présentation de la carte correspondante


Accès : Rocade Ouest de Brest Prendre la Direction Le Conquet,

dans un grand rond-point, le musée est clairement signalé.



Quizz : Forts et citadelles



  • German Sentry Box. Photograph DMPA

  • Exhibition on the F.A.F.L. Photograph DMPA

  • Wagon used for deportation. Photograph DMPA

  • Churchill tank having conquered the fort. Photograph DMPA

  • Vehicle room. Photograph DMPA

  • Plan of the fort. Photograph DMPA

  • The entrance to Fort de Montbarey. Photograph DMPA